The latest map showing hotspots for Japanese Knotweed has revealed Nottinghamshire as an 'area of concern'. The fast growing and invasive plant has been reported to damage buildings and cause house prices to plummet.
While Knotweed is native to East Asia, it is understood to have been introduced to the UK in 1850 by a botanist unaware of the impact the plant would go on to have on the native environment. However, the rapidly growing root system is now feared by those discovering it following reports that, if left to spread, it can damage property foundations and 'strangle' other species in its path.
The new map highlights the worst areas across the UK for reports of the plant and Nottinghamshire, along with London, Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Glasgow, Bristol, Sheffield, and the Isle of Man are among some of the 'biggest areas of concern'.
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Displayed as an interactive 'heatmap', the data from invasive plant specialists Environet shows homeowners and homebuyers exactly where the weed is growing across the country. It is based on 'sightings across the UK' and designed to inform homeowners and homebuyers of the local presence of knotweed and the potential risk to their property using data generated from over 50,000 known infestations. It says that new sightings are added daily.
Alongside helpful advice on how to identify the weed, worried households can type in their postcode and see exactly where the weed has been spotted. However, while the fast-growing weed is now "indisputably the UK's most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant", according to the Environment Agency, it isn't time to panic. According to Environet, while "Knotweed can and does cause damage to property", it adds that it is "perhaps not as bad as some might make you believe". Adding in a warning: "But don’t under-estimate the damage the plant can wreak."
If you discover the plant in your garden, there are rules in place on how to dispose of the weed. You also have to disclose its presence. If you find it and attempt to remove it yourself, you must NEVER simply pop it in the compost, green bin or send it to the tip. Instead, take advice on the topic.
Environet says: "Whilst it’s not illegal to have knotweed on your property, there are compelling reasons to act. Do the responsible thing and get it removed, protect the value of your home and avoid neighbour disputes."
According to the map, some of the worst areas of Nottinghamshire have around 194 occurrences within a four kilometre area. Hotspots are marked on the map from yellow to red, with darker spots signifying the worst infestations. However, that figure isn't as high as St Helen's in Merseyside, there are 441 occurrences within four kilometres, while another area in Bolton, Greater Manchester has 684.
According to the Mirror, Japanese knotweed dies back in winter to ground level but by early summer the plant's bamboo-like stems begin to shoot back out of the ground and can reach over two metres in height. It says eradicating the invasive species can prove an incredibly difficult task, killing the plant with chemicals usually takes at least three years. However, other options include burying or burning the plant after removing it, but these come with strict requirements and also require the Environment Agency to be notified.
While it is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed in your garden unless it is causing a nuisance, you must keep it under control and can be prosecuted for allowing it to spread into the wild.
You can check your area on the map by clicking here.
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